What better movie to start the Thanksgiving leftover series in 2020 than the first major movie to attempt a Virtual Theatrical release?
The frozen turkey is in the freezer, so its time to star prepping for leftovers. 2020 may be the banner year for movie leftovers – films we wanted to see but never got around to. With all the films that either died of privation in limited release, or tried to go virtual but blundered the price point*, there’s no end to the list of films I’d have rather seen in theaters…if going to theaters wasn’t the equivalent of licking a light socket these days.
Trolls World Tour (April 2020)
Poppy (Anna Kendrick) and Branch (Justin Timberlake) saved their village of pastel, glitter addled trolls with the power of their pop music. Unfortunately, it turns out that there’s a wider world of trolls out there, each dedicated to their own genre of music. While the new Queen Poppy wants to unite the trolls in harmony, the young queen of the hard rock trolls, Barb, wants to make sure that the only music in the troll kingdoms is metal.
About the Music?
Despite the broader scope of the film, this is still a Trolls movie, which means its a very thinly disguised pop music video. The ghost of Casey Kasem must power troll land, because we’re not even five minutes into the film when we’ve been rushed through the top 40 at breakneck speed.
The first Trolls film got its foot in the door with its infectious soundtrack. I remember a lot of head scratching and eye rolling about a movie based on Troll dolls…but I also remember lots of people getting on board just for Justin Timberlake’s catchy main song. The sequel…just doesn’t have any of those hooks. Instead, it loads up on ten second riffs for songs you know, lightly edited to make sense in the story, and then machine guns them at your ear holes.
It Is What It Is…
I kind of expected the pop overload, though I had hoped it would be a lot less artless. I also expected the same oddly charming mix of naive characters, whimsical silliness, and brazen fart jokes. And it WAS all of those things. And those bits STILL work!
…and What It Is Ain’t That Bad.
Once the music video montages are over, you’re left with the visual artistry of the film, which is gorgeous. The texture on all of the creatures and settings and world make you want to reach out and stroke the screen. It’s visual ASMR. From the plush look of the trolls, to the golden metal shavings of the dessert sand, to the rough denim stylings of the Rock Trolls vehicles, the film begs you to touch it. As a former kid enthralled by the tactile sensibility of Rankin and Bass’ animagic, Trolls had me hooked with its art style.
Good Enough for a Reunion Tour.
Trolls World Tour manages to be better and worse than the first film. The music is nowhere near as good. The story is fairly prosaic, and despite the gorgeous vistas, the new kingdoms don’t really come alive because we don’t spend any time getting to know the new trolls. For all that…
World Tour does double down on the humor, silliness and simple earnestness that made the first film such a winner. It also really flexes its animation muscles hard. As much as I wanted to skip most of the musical segments, the remaining 75% of the film had me grooving to its tone and visuals.
*Bonus – Worth the Price?
The reason I skipped this film when it went digital, despite finding the first film to be unexpectedly charming, was the price point. Major studios tried to cover the Corona virus losses by charging 20 bucks for a rental. I though that was trash, so I abstained.
Looking at the product seven months later, I see that it wasn’t a complete scam. Trolls World Tour is loaded to the gills with extras, and it was even cut into a “dance party” versions that let you get right into the music. While a nice effort to earn the price tag…it really wasn’t worth it. The music is the weakest part of Trolls World Tour, so I really wasn’t interested in spending more time with it. Some of the shorts in the extras were funny, though.